About Me

My photo
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Amelia Island is Camino Island

The Book Loft
The island in Camino Island by John Grisham is patterned after Amelia Island and its town of Fernandina Beach just north of Jacksonville, Florida.

The Fernandina Observer has an interesting review of the book as it relates to Amelia Island. They were unable to get a direct answer from the publisher on why Grisham used a fake name rather than using the real name of the island.

Janet Maslin in her profile of Grisham in the New York Times provided an explanation of the origins of the book and the title:

Grisham and his wife, Renee, dreamed up the idea for “Camino Island on a drive from their home outside Charlottesville, Va., to their beach house in Florida. Its working title was the name of the place where they have a vacation home, but he eventually changed it for reasons of privacy. Its cover still looks like the view from Grisham’s boardwalk to the beach.

That house is on the real life Amelia Island.

The focus of the story is Bay Books, a charming and very successful bookstore, owned by a charming and handsome rogue, Bruce Cable, who is nattily attired in seersucker suits and bowties.

The Observer’s review notes that:

Like the Book Loft at 214 Center Street, Cable’s Bay Books features comfortable chairs, cozy nooks, and author signings, but there are very real differences, according to Book Loft owner Sue Nelson. First of all, there’s no basement – where the fictional owner stores rare books and manuscripts.

“I’d have to dig one,” said Ms. Nelson. “Nobody has a basement in Florida.”

The column notes the similarity between Cable’s fictional home in Camino Island and the real life Fairbanks House. It appears the actual house, in the Italianate style lacks the tower bedroom where Cable takes visiting female authors.
Fairbanks House

Late in the book there is reference to the Surf restaurant, “a popular outdoor bar and grill”. The columns states the real life Surf’s Marketing and Events Manager was not aware of whether Grisham had visited the restaurant.

With regard to first editions Grisham said in an interview with NPR:

Well, my publisher Doubleday sends me the first book off the press. Or at least they claim it’s the first book off the press. I have no way of knowing. But it comes with a very nice note from my publisher. And we take that book at a little ceremony and we go to a certain place, a certain bookshelf in the library and add it to the collection. So we have a row of – two rows, now – of all of our first ones off the press. And that’s where I keep my first editions.

Later in the interview he advises he has been collecting “modern first editions” for 25 years and has “a nice little collection”. He says those first editions have been “very good investments”.

On Grisham’s website is a podcast of him on book tour at Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It was his first book tour in 25 years.

An early supporter of his books was Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi and that store was part of the tour. Grisham demonstrates his connection with Square Books by signing 2,000 copies of each of his books for the store.

I regret that I was not looking at books to be published during my Florida trip in April for I was in Jacksonville and could have made a trip to Amelia Island. “Sigh”.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Bill. I always find it fascinating to see/learn about real-life places that are the inspiration for fictional places. And Amelia Island look beautiful...

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I had not realized how much Grisham drew on actual locations. I think his status is such he probably creates tourist interest in a locale he chooses for a book.

  2. Perhaps you can go back to the area for another vacation and check it out for us...

  3. I haven't read this yet, but have read many of Grisham's books set in Mississippi and one in Virginia, maybe a few other locations.

    I may read this one. I'll look at your review.

    Wanted to let you know about a light, fun series featuring a reluctant defense attorney, Andy Carpenter, as created by David Rosenfelt. Both are also dog lovers, apparent in the books.

    I turned to "Collared," as I needed a fun book and what could be better to a lover of legal mysteries than a series that is just plain fun. With some quite witty courtroom dialogue thrown in, a dessert for legal mystery lovers.

    I keep laughing and thought I'd mention the series to you. There is a series and Rosenfelt writes stand-alone thrillers, too, while rescuing a slew of dogs.

    1. Kathy D.: I read one in the series 13 years ago. I found Andy charming but have not read another in the series.

  4. This was an entertaining read - delving into the literary world of original manuscripts, first editions and book shops. The story moved relatively quickly, the characters were in general interesting.

  5. I have throughly enjoyed all of John Grisham’s books. He is a master writer of mysteries. Keep up the great work.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I will be continuing to read Grisham.

  6. Yours was first in Google when I searched Florida Camino Island. I mean, “congratulations,” you’re number 1. I am enjoying Camino Winds, but I thought, Gee, this us not his style, and, Oh well, feels like being somewhere (...else, during covid). Finally, more than half way through and crazy-skill set people added—to go to crazy, unlikely lengths to solve this one. Big versus small, right versus wrong, sharp versus fierce, and, Ahhh. Grisham. Crazy fun. ~ Val G

    1. vjee: Thanks for the comment. I did not know my blog came up as No. 1. I appreciate the standing. It is a different kind of Grisham. It was fun to read the book.